One of the best things about London is that you are never the weirdest person in the room. Even if you are dressed as an 80’s hooker with a rabbit face (long story) there will still be someone on the night bus that just makes you feel all kinds of normal. What I didn’t quite realise however was just how weird London got… lets just say that when I pay for a play I don’t exactly expect it to end with a naked man singing on a shipping container surrounded by abandoned swimming babies. Yep. You read that right. Welcome to the strange world of The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face.
Immersive theatre sounded like a bit of a laugh, and it all started off so well. The Audio Wave Ninja and found ourselves on a beautiful late summer evening, wandering the banks of the Thames, eager to see what the night would hold. When you arrived at the jetty (a brand new art space near the O2) we were put into groups based on arrival time. When your group was called you took your shoes off, put them in a white shoe-box and stood in line. Yes, The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is a shoe free zone.
The first part of the experience was finding your way through a blacked out maze, all roads leading you to a white operating theatre type room. We were greeted by a … person. All the actors we were to encounter that night wore loose fitting latex face masks, super creepy seeing a face that was not a face half falling off a real person. Then they asked for a volunteer… the Audio Wave Ninja was brave enough to put his hand up. He walked down the yellow corridor adjoining the room, only for it to turn into a Willy Wonka ‘smaller at the other end’ corridor, and then he disappeared.
When we cought up with him a few minutes later we found him to be indulging in a nightclub dance party with another group. A group who then opened yet another door and disappeared into the darkness. The dance party continued for a while with our latex faced host really getting into character as that sweaty creepy guy in the club. Then we were told a safe word before being joined by the group behind us. Soon our safe word was shouted and it was our turn to leave a very confused joining group behind.
And we found ourselves in a shipping container, sitting in the pitch black as it shook and roared; the sound of it and us being lifted and carried to a far off destination. Now, at this point I was beyond thankful to have the Ninja sitting next to me, I had just been to the Imperial War Museum and the Nazi death trains were fresh in my mind.
But I didn’t have long to freak out, we soon felt the judder of our container arriving on a foreign shore. Stepping into the next adventure we found our bare feet stepping through sand as we made our way through a hazy jungle. That too was short lived as we came across a latex faced beach bum in a cave hording plastic bottles. He then encouraged us to step into a lift, closed the door and the elevator music filled our ears.
This was potentially the most normal part of the play, until the wall fell down to reveal a dominatrix’s lair. A poor member of the group in front of us was blind folded and sitting at the head of the table. With the last of our latex faced guides turning the lights on and off, jumping around the room getting up close and personal in the darkness I was a little bit over the whole thing. Then the blindfolded dupe was used as as broken compass to pick the next victim and we were allowed to escape.
Escape to the final disturbing act of the night, the half submerged shipping container surrounded by plastic baby dolls aimlessly swimming in the murky water. Standing on the shipping container was a jesus lookalike in a tight white dress singing a mournful tuneless song. Now, that would have been weird enough to end the night on. Then he took his dress off. It felt like seeing a strange mans penis flailing around was a fitting end to a frankly bizarre evening.
It took the The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face for me to realise just how conservative I am. Call me a traditionalist but I at the very least expect an attempt at a plot when I see a play. This? This was just being spat out half an hour later 100% sure that you had experienced something, but clueless to exactly what. I like cultural activities in London, but I just prefer them to be less awkward and not end the night confronted with a musicians penis. That experience should be reserved for Tinder.